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  • Writer's pictureChristina Vourcos

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2021: TV Writing Style

My Camp NaNoWriMo Selfie beside a photo of Jamie Nash’s ebook on my iPad.

I’ve been spending Camp NaNoWriMo writing and revising my outline. Wait, what? If you’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month every November), or Camp NaNoWriMo (the April & July sessions which are more open to different kinds of projects), usually you plan the month before you participate in this challenge. That usually helps me to make progress with novels and novellas. Sometimes I’ve done poetry challenges during camp sessions, which no planning is involved (unless you count some NaPoWriMo [National Poetry Writing Month] prompts). This camp session was different.

I began seriously thinking about writing my first TV pilot in June. I’ve been wanting to write for TV for much longer. I got inspired with an original idea and I wanted to learn more of how to make it become a TV pilot. Thanks to a TV writer friend, I was able to find a way to read TV pilot scripts. She also suggested in the past to read Blake Snyder’s ‘Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need,’ which I did, but didn’t lead me to do much with it, as Jamie Nash’s ‘Save The Cat! Writes TV.’ The first book did give me a good background to view Jamie’s book. It made more sense for me to explore Blake’s film beats in context with TV. It dawned on me that it’s because it’s the most familiar medium after books for me. I’ve seen more TV than movies and theatre. Though I wouldn’t mind learning how to write for those formats too, especially theatre. I needed this research time with my new idea to get a better sense of what I wanted to do, but I found myself writing out scene descriptions as quickly as they came to me.

Later I made my notes look more professional (and legible) to send out to my TV writer friend, but she couldn’t look at it right away, as she was really busy with her writing work. She gave me some suggestions that I could work with until she could spend a good amount of time looking at my outline and eventually give me feedback. So I worked on those homework assignments (including a Story Area, which describes the pilot through themes and character growth) to help me develop my idea more. I ended up expanding the outline before I received feedback by mid-July. After feedback, and reading, I felt confident that I had a good story. I still had work to do because I skipped a step in the process.

I had looked at the standard beats for film and TV (the important points of the story) when writing out my outline, but I didn’t really write them out. So my writer friend suggested to write them out and place them on a board. I thought about how I could do it, and realized that I had been using Google Jamboard for teaching my ESL classes, and maybe that could be a good way to electronically board the beats. It worked! Plus my writer friend was amazed that she didn’t know about this tool and how it could work for story beats. Anyway, in this process, I could visualize my story overall and what I was missing. Afterwards, I added also what could be possible season 1 beats, just to see how it could go. Throughout this I’ve been doing notes in my physical notebook, which seemed to work for my planning this project as well. As it was easy for me to let my ideas flow as they came to me or when I pondered.

Then I went back to the outline, I had more to add and revise. While I still have more to finalize this outline, I really feel like I’ve made progress this month in figuring more about my TV pilot. That’s important because the outline has to be at its best before you move towards writing out the script. It’s all part of the screenwriting process. A lot of this planning is necessary to do, especially if you’re working on finalizing an episode with others involved. Normally, there would be others viewing the story area and outline to finalize it before the scriptwriter can move forward, but since this is a pilot, feedback from at least someone, especially if you can find someone familiar with industry, helps. The planning also helps you have a better idea of how you could present your idea when pitching your TV pilot when you’re ready, and I’m not there yet.

Trust me. If you read the book, you’ll get a better idea of the process. I’m just trying to write out my process as best as I can. Plus you might find your own way through reading as well. Just don’t forget that feedback. That reminds me, I’m using recent feedback on my novel to make it better for publication. It wasn’t ready yet, but querying was still worth the process. I just needed a bit of a break from it as I’ve been editing it a lot. I’m glad I had this TV pilot to work on. It brought back my creativity, as well as my hope. I’ll keep working on my writing projects moving forward. It just will take time for you all to see them. They do say dreams take time to come true. I know they will.

The future is very bright. I’m also excited and slightly bittersweet to work on this TV pilot project while the Supergirl series finale finishes filming. It’s one of many TV shows that has made me want to be a TV writer. I can’t wait to see what happens at the end of the series, returning August 24 on The CW. This show also led me to some of the best opportunities and memories. As well as my top favorite local actor Jeremy Jordan (plays Winn Schott on the show). He actually mentioned in an interview earlier in the year that he wrote a TV pilot (during down time of the pandemic) just to see if he could do it, and he could. He continues to inspire me in many ways, including my writing journey. I also want to give thanks to my writing friends, including my TV writer friend. She knows who she is. I also thankful to all my friends, family, and coworkers who support me with my writing. While I didn’t write a script this month, I still feel like a winner. I know I will keep working on improving and developing my writing craft. If you’re a writer, keep writing and learning.

For my next blog post, I hope to write about the new Kindle Vella (including writing opportunities with the format as well as a review of my friend Christina Farley’s ‘The Dream Heist’). Stay tuned.

UPDATE 8-3-21: I’ve recently published my first Kindle Vella serial novel, ‘Liberty Calling.’ I’ll be discussing about this in my next blog post.

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Christina Vourcos

 

Self-Published Indie Author and Poet, Lymphoma Survivor, GreekLatina, M.A. 

 

Discover hope and what matters with my books and Kindle Vella serials

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